Update: Judge Tim Grendell's Odd Letter To The Paper About His Censorious Thuggery

Yesterday I wrote about how Ohio judge Tim Grendell was abusing his contempt power in an unconstitutional attempt to retaliate against criticism.

Today a source provided me with a copy of the letter Judge Grendell sent to the editorial board of a local paper, the Plain Dealer, in response to a critical article.

The letter satisfies my expectations concerning Judge Grendell.

To the Editorial Board ofCleveland.com,
As a constitutional oriented judge and legal scholar, I appreciate the First Amendment and the general right of free speech.

What tha blue fuck is a "constitutional oriented judge," other than an attempt to make me choke on my morning coffee?

Also, note the classic censor's rhetorical move: you always start saying you respect free speech. BUT . . . . [Edit: I am reminded that the technical term for this is "gertruding."]

But the right to free speech is not unlimited. Just as a person cannot stand up in a movie theater and yell "fire", a person has no constitutional right to falsely tell a party in an ongoing child protective custody case that the judge is mentally ill, does not follow the law, and should be "kicked" by that party. Such irresponsible and false speech is just as detrimental to the public welfare and the fair administration of our public justice system as the prohibited movie theater conduct is to public safety.

So much arglebargle.

First: "the right to free speech is not unlimited" is another typical censor's rhetorical move. It's a non sequitur. If you have relevant authority showing that this particular instance of speech is outside the protection of the First Amendment, cite it. Otherwise this is like saying, "well, there are some circumstances where I am allowed to shoot someone" when the cops come to arrest you for shooting your spouse.

Second: Stahhhhp. Staahhhhp with the hackneyed, misleading fire in a crowded theater reference. Protip: the legal analysis of anyone who references that Holmes line is not to be taken seriously.

Third, the generic and conclusory "detrimental to the public welfare and fair administration of our public justice system" is meritless for the reasons I explained yesterday. Most of the language he's complaining about is explicitly opinion and rhetorical hyperbole, and he hasn't come close to offering the sort of compelling evidence of actual disruption of justice required by three quarters of a century of Supreme Court precedent.

In the case in my court, involving the protection of a child in need ofjudicial intervention, Nancy McArthur's false speech encouraging a noncompliant party to continue to be disrespectful of the Court and noncompliant with Court orders was not protected speech. It was interference with a judicial proceeding and improperly impeded the protection of a child.

Judge Grendell's proposition seems to be that if a party to a case asks me about a judge, and I criticize the judge, I'm subject to a contempt order because I am encouraging disobedience. I invite Judge Grendell, with the assistance of a doctor holding a flashlight if necessary, to cite any authority supporting that proposition.

Confidentiality limitations prevent a discussion of any other facts, but suffice to say, the Plain Dealer's Editorial Board and Brent Larkin are mistaken as to both the facts and the law. This is particularly disappointing because the Court provided the newspaper with the correct information before it published its editorial.

Oddly, though the issue is so important to him, Judge Grendell cannot cite a single precedent supporting his unconstitutionally narcissistic view of his own contempt power. Ultimately this letter is reminiscent not of an analysis by a "legal scholar" but of a YouTube comment.

People like this decide on which of your rights the State will recognize.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. says

    Some useful background about the judge. It should suffice to say (not "suffice to say" as Mr. Grendell writes) that Mr. Grendell is only a judge because a man worthy of the appellation "Judge" was struck and killed by a drunk driver.

  2. Dan says

    This judge is a complete moron, yes, but I'm confused by your closing remark, Ken. Are you saying YouTube comments are not insightful and informative???

  3. Josh C says

    Is it really only 75 years? I had thought this particular brand of speech was thoroughly protected since the expiration of the Alien and Sedition acts.

  4. Fred says

    Former state senator Grendell says some crazy stuff. I used to sit in committee and thank my lucky stars that his power was diluted by other legislators. His appointment as judge was a great day for the legislative branch, not so much for the judicial. His ties? Red, white, and blue, baby. Ego can overpower intelligence.

  5. Jenna says

    How can an American born, Caucasian cissexual male, possibly think he has a constitutional right not to be called names? It is, in fact, a requirement of the zeitgeist.

  6. Enbee says

    So this is weird: Judge Grendell's wife is an appellate court judge on the circuit that includes Geauga County. And unless I'm reading it wrong, it's the exact appellate court that granted the temporary stay!

  7. pitchfork says

    Just came across this page via a twitter post, and I have a question concerning this:
    quote"Yesterday I wrote about how Ohio judge Tim Grendell was abusing his contempt power in an unconstitutional attempt to retaliate against criticism."unquote

    Was the Judge attempting to use his "contempt power" while on the bench in this case, or, are you referring to the letter? I saw no reference to official use so I'm assuming it is the latter. If so, can someone explain how it is unconstitutional to write a letter? Doesn't the judge have the same 1st Amendment rights as the one who criticized him? What am I missing? Btw, I post this as a johnny come lately non-lawyer nobody who is just curious. Thanks

  8. says

    Is it possible that I am more qualified to be a judge than Grendell? I am literate, have at least half a brain, know what the Constitution is, and am NOT, as far as I know, batshit crazy…

  9. David says

    Ken, As a fly on the wall of your blog (I came for the Prenda and stayed for the learning), I just want to say… Damn, I miss when you aren't posting about lawyering. I enjoy the spammer play but it is not the same.

    Thanks for the great reads… and the enjoyable comments from all your readers.

  10. sorrykb says

    What tha blue fuck is a "constitutional oriented judge," other than an attempt to make me choke on my morning coffee?

    He enjoys a brisk morning walk?

  11. notthatJack says

    To me, this 'judge' and his behavior are gravely concerning not just in the general sense of respect for the Constitution being incumbent upon all Americans, but quite specifically regarding the paries in that "ongoing child protective custody case" — I think it's quite clear this self-important buffoon has neither the understanding of the law, nor the moral unimpeachability, to be relied upon to protect the well-being of minors (or anyone else) whose cases come before his court.

  12. says

    There is an expanded power for judges in child protective cases to use contempt. It is because there is often a gag order on the public disclosure of information about minors – particularly if it is about physical, sexual or mental abuse. That power is to protect the child, not the judge's ego.

  13. Cat G says

    Wait wait. "constitutional oriented"? Is that some kind of brand new sexual orientation that I haven't seen in the Psychological literature?

    And even if he was, if he loved the Constitution that much… I hope he'd respect it more. I mean, yeah, people saying mean things about you to someone else outside of your court, in private, certainly that is detrimental to society. If by society, you mean yourself. And I think we all know, he does.

  14. Birion says

    Constitutional, oriented judge – a judge fully embracing one of Asia's many cultures whose existence is preordained in the Constitution.
    Constitutional-oriented judge – a judge who really focuses on his morning walks.

  15. Bryce says

    What tha blue fuck is a "constitutional oriented judge," other than an attempt to make me choke on my morning coffee?

    He min/max`d Constition using Wisdom as a dump stat

  16. Rick says

    I think by "constitutional oriented" it means he points his butt downwards before his morning poop.

  17. Matthew Cline says


    Using Chrome, I'm having to approve scripts from "unauthenticated sources" to get the page to render properly; this wasn't happening yesterday.

  18. notthatJack says

    Using Firefox, I also had to do something to get Popehat pages to display at all (it had something to do with security certificates; the browser on this computer thinks I'm much more fluent in French then I am, long story). Shortly thereafter, the site layout… changed? I'm inclined to say the site layout is broken, but I suppose this could be deliberate. I am enjoying being able to make out other users' gravatars without squinting or viewing each image separately. These handy buttons for bolding, italicizing and (I presume, not having tried them out) linking and quoting in a comment are indeed handy.

    On an entirely unrelated note, Bryce has won this comment thread.

  19. notthatJack says

    More fluent in French than I am. Than, with an a. That is one of my biggest pet peeves when someone else does it, aargh.

    Also, I had to make another security certificate exception (I think? see above) in order to get my previous comment to submit. And the site layout now seems mostly back to the way it was before. The "You may also like" links appear to be missing still…

  20. King Squirrel says

    What tha blue fuck is a "constitutional oriented judge,"

    Warlock specialty class from 4th edition. Spamming the Contempt spell at low levels is the standard tryhard tactic for them. Tends to be a glass cannon.

  21. Sami says

    In fairness, he doesn't say he supports the First Amendment, just that he appreciates it. Those aren't the same thing. I appreciate that this dipshit is a judge, but I don't think he should be.

    And hey, technically the right to free speech isn't unlimited. If I were, say, to go to America, buy a sniper rifle, and stand in front of the Lincoln Memorial and announce loudly: "I am going to shoot the President! In the face! I am definitely going to shoot the president right between the eyes!"

    … I'm pretty sure that would not be protected speech, even if it turned out that I had a nerf gun in my bag and was planning to shoot the Lincoln statue with that, and I intended the sniper rifle for shooting rabbits on the farm back home.

    You know. Technically.

  22. C. S. P. Schofield says

    "People like this decide on which of your rights the State will recognize."

    Yes, indeed. The problem with all systems of Justice is that they will be administered by humans, amd humans are nucking futs. No, this doesn't mean I advocate a system run by machines. Among other things the machines would be made by humans and humans are nucking futs. And if someone offers you a system run my Higher Beings, I want to meet the Higher Beings in question, and go over their paperwork with an electron microscope.

  23. L says

    "What tha blue fuck is a "constitutional oriented judge,"

    Lotta joke answers to this, but the real answer is that it's code for Republican.

  24. albert says

    The whole cert thing is ridiculous anyway. Popehat runs fine on Firefox without running cloudflare scripts, which I wish they didn't use, BTW. I recommend everyone get NoScript for Firefox, so they can see (and control) all of the scripts a site is using. The NoScript folks have also automated the process of seeking info on any particular script provider. Flashblock is another great add on.
    I'm not connected in any way to any commercial or non-commercial website, product, or person or persons, which I may happen to mention or promote in my comments.

  25. notthatJack says

    Looks to decidedly non-expert me like they've gotten round the security-certificate issue by moving to http from https. It also appears that the layout changes have settled down again, hopefully for good.

    Incidentally, I do use the NoScript add-on, and also recommend it despite having no commercial or other ties to its coders. It can sometimes be tiresome to figure out which scripts on a given site are actually necessary to allow vs. which would merely add some 'functionality' I have no need for (e.g. facebook.com), but the benefits, such as not having a script-heavy site slow down my whole computer, generally outweigh any minor annoyance.

  26. albert says

    It's nearly impossible to fully vet every script provider, but the really bad ones show up immediately. They are getting clever about hiding 3rd party connections. I usually allow a sites own scripts, temporarily, but try to view the site with everything else blocked. This often fails. Some websites will not function when scripts are blocked. Those I abandon. They are not worth the trouble.
    I'm not an expert either, but I've been following Bruce Schneiers blog, schneier.com, and learning a lot about computer security, or more precisely, the lack thereof.
    Just for fun, do a little research on cloudflare.

  27. says

    Dear TECHNICAL PROBLEM people: We have migrated to a Content Distribution Network so that we'll be able to withstand the influx of traffic the next time Ken says "taint".

    In addition, we have configured our TLS 1.2 security and our web assets to reduce mixed content. Eliminating or rewriting for mixed content will be an ongoing project, so do not be surprised if your browser's "lock" or "https" icon is yellow or has a strikethrough.

    If you encounter any troubles using the website, please try these steps:

    1. Close all Popehat tabs (for you keep several open, right?), and then approach the site using the URI popehat.com (note the lack of protocol). The URL will be rewritten for you and you will enter a land of bliss.
    2. Clear your browser's cache.
    3. If all else fails, complain to me at david at popehat dot com. There's a chance I'll notice and– who knows?– I might reply.

  28. notthatJack says

    Hey, David, thanks for the update! I followed your instructions (I had, in fact, had more than one Popehat tab open, one for most recent posts and another for browsing at semi-random through the archives) and was redirected to https://www.popehat.com — is this the intended behavior? Everything looks hunky-dory on my end.

    My sympathies on the complexities inherent to coding for taint overflow.

  29. Jeff says

    What tha blue fuck is a "constitutional oriented judge," other than an attempt to make me choke on my morning coffee?

    Well, "sexual orientation" refers to what you fuck, so I presume that a "constitutional oriented judge" is a judge who wants to fuck the constitution. Let's hope they both use protection.

  30. Robert What? says

    The real tragedy is that there are far too many petty, power drunk bureaucrats on all levels: judges, prosecutors, etc. And we have to pay the salaries (and benefits and pensions) of these wastrels.

  31. SDN says

    "with the assistance of a doctor holding a flashlight proctoscope if necessary,"

    FTFY. Always use the proper tools for the job.

  32. says

    I had trouble with this blog for a couple days. It kept telling me you were possibly stealing my credit card information. I didn't believe it. It looked like a generic message from google chrome. This judge isn't protecting the juvenile. He is hurting her, from day one. And doing whatever it takes to keep from being held accountable for it. Mostly lying, not allowing full hearings, playing with paperwork. Selective hearing. Making the focus on him, and the Nancy McArthur issues.

  33. pitchfork says

    Ken White said on
    February 26, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    quote@Pitchfork: it's not clear to me whether you read the linked post from yesterday, which answers your question."unquote

    Linked post? It's not clear to me what you are referring to? If it answers my question..cool. Please repost the link. It appears I've missed something. Thanks.